South African Petroleum Refineries (Sapref) is preparing to restart its crude oil refinery in Durban after a temporary shutdown.
This start-up process is planned to begin today, 21 of July 2021, and will take seven to ten days to complete.
The 50% joint venture between Shell SA and BP Southern Africa said that the shutdown resulted from the unrest experienced in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
Last week, Sapref declared a force majeure event in the wake of public violence and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and shut down its facility, which represents 35% of South Africa’s crude oil refining capacity.
A spokesperson for Sapref said at the time that the decision was taken after careful consideration of the risks involved, including the safety of its people and Sapref’s ability to continue operating safely without a confirmed supply of critical material to the refinery.
With key delivery routes open and materials supply secured, Sapref said it can now restart the refinery.
“At Sapref, safety is our number one priority. We have plans in place to ensure a safe start-up with little impact to our neighbouring communities,” said Sapref MD Victor Bester.
Sapref was not the only refinery to shut down last week. The refineries operated by Engen and Chevron were also not producing fuel.
This leaves only Natref — a joint venture between Sasol and Total — as the last remaining major source of petrol and diesel in South Africa, the Daily Maverick reported.
According to the Sasol and Total websites, Natref is South Africa’s only inland crude oil refinery.
Durban residents were forced to queue for hours to get fuel due to supply lines being disrupted and petrol stations being destroyed.
The Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, also published regulations that blocked fuel retailers from dispensing petrol or diesel into a container to prohibit South Africans from panic-buying fuel and stockpiling it in jerry cans.
Sebokeng Fuels director Lauren Klein stated last week that whether or not South Africa faces a fuel shortage depends on how long the refineries will be closed and how much fuel has been stockpiled outside of KwaZulu-Natal.